Cabinet clears the plan amid disagreement among Ministers; IMA says it will challenge it in court

In a move that has been strongly resisted by doctors, the Maharashtra Cabinet on Thursday allowed homoeopathic doctors in the State to prescribe allopathic drugs after completing a one-year course at the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences.

The decision came after major disagreements in the Cabinet itself.

The government’s reasoning is that few doctors are willing to work in rural areas, and this will help to boost medical care in villages. The decision covers only those who have passed the Bachelor in Homoeopathic Medicine. There are roughly 62,000 homoeopaths in the State.

The Indian Medical Association said it would challenge the decision in court. “Why should rural areas suffer at the hands of unqualified practitioners? This decision has been taken because homoeopathic colleges are lying vacant and many are controlled by politicians,” IMA secretary Jayesh Lele said.

“This is a dangerous decision. It is not so simple to learn about allopathic drugs. They can cure but they also have side-effects and can kill. No other State has allowed this,” said Kishor Taori, chairman of the Maharashtra Medical Council.

The decision saw a major discord among Ministers. It was proposed by Medical Education Minister Vijaykumar Gavit of the Nationalist Congress Party and supported by Jaidutt Kshirsagar and Rajesh Tope, also of the same party. However, Public Health Minister Suresh Shetty and Water Conservation Minister Nitin Raut, both of the Congress, strongly opposed it.